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Poverty has fallen in all regions of the world

In every region of the developing world, the percentage of people living on less than $1.25 a day and the number of poor declined between 2005-2008, according to estimates released today by the World Bank. This across-the-board reduction over a three-year monitoring cycle marks a first since the Bank began monitoring extreme poverty.

An estimated 1.29 billion people in 2008 lived below $1.25 a day, equivalent to 22 percent of the population of the developing world. By contrast, in 1981, 1.94 billion people were living in extreme poverty. The update draws on over 850 household surveys in nearly 130 countries.

REGIONAL HIGHLIGHTS

East Asia and the Pacific: About 14 percent of its population lived below US$1.25 a day in 2008, down from 77 percent in 1981, when it was the region with the highest poverty rate in the world. In China, 13 percent, or 173 million people, lived below $1.25 a day in 2008. East Asia achieved MDG1 about 10 years ago.

In the developing world outside China, the extreme-poverty rate was 25 percent in 2008, down from 41 percent in 1981. The number of people living in extreme poverty, however, was about the same in 2008 as 1981 at around 1.1 billion, after rising in the 1980s and 1990s and falling since 1999.

South Asia: The $1.25 a day poverty rate fell from 61 percent to 39 percent between 1981 and 2005 and fell a further 3 percentage points between 2005 and 2008. The proportion of the population living in extreme poverty is now the lowest since 1981.

Latin America and the Caribbean: From a peak of 14 percent living below $1.25 a day in 1984, the poverty rate reached its lowest value so far of 6.5 percent in 2008. The number of the poor rose until 2002 and has been falling sharply since.

Middle East and North Africa: The region had 8.6 million people—or 2.7 percent of the population—living on less than $1.25 a day in 2008, down from 10.5 million in 2005 and 16.5 million in 1981.

Eastern Europe and Central Asia: The proportion living on less than $1.25 is now under 0.5 percent, having peaked at 3.8 percent in 1999. 2.2 percent lived on less than $2 a day in 2008, down from a peak of 12 percent in 1999.

Sub-Saharan Africa: For the first time since 1981, less than half of its population (47 percent) lived below $1.25 a day. The rate was 51 percent in 1981. The $1.25-a-day poverty rate in SSA has fallen 10 percentage points since 1999. 9 million fewer people living below $1.25 a day in 2008 than 2005.

Read more:
The World Bank’s survey of extreme poverty rates
The Economist Magazine’s coverage of the World Bank survey

Managing revolution—the Arab Spring reaches a critical juncture

The aftermath of the Arab Spring uprisings is at a critical juncture and needs to be managed in an orderly way so change benefits everyone, the head of the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said political change across the Middle East and North Africa faced headwinds from an economic slowdown across the oil-importing countries, which was pushing up already-high unemployment and increasing social tensions.

Popular uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa this year have toppled veteran rulers in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, and forced Yemen’s president to sign away his powers. Syria is grappling with an eight-month-old anti-government protest movement and Bahrain is still dealing with the fallout from a crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in March.

Read more on reuters.com

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